Was the Philippines Invasion (1944) necessary?



  • What is your thoughts?


  • 2017 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    We had too for many reasons. It was our property, Politically we can’t abandon our prewar allies, Militarily it was Japans last main Island holding- consider how many assets she spent in Leyte Gulf.

    Also, MacArthur had to keep his promise if he was to be president. Lastly, Japan would not surrender latter unless we took it.

    In reality they should have bypassed that waste. It had no value except as a far east base and some economic returns.

    Now Tarawa was a total waste omg that should have been bypassed.


  • 2017 '16 '15


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    Morning Worsham.
    I think you had to go for the Philippines, for the reasons mentioned by IL.
    As it happens, it turned out to be the IJN’s graveyard. The Japanese thought it was as important as you did and commited fully, losing its last reserves. This only made the last year easier for your forces.



  • In case you ask me, I guess the US leaders at that time did not have enough experience to make the right decision. They were stuck in traditions and obsolete way to think. But today when we see it in hindsight, we know the ultimate strategy would be to go straight for Okinawa and bypass all the little worthless islands. Save your resources for the decisive battle and stop waste it everywhere. US navy controlled all the seazones in that area, so the Nips in Phil and all the other islands were pretty much stuck there, waiting for Tokyo to fall and then surrender.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    As I recall, there was such a difference of opinion at the top level – meaning between MacArthur and Nimitz – about what the U.S. end-game plan should be that Roosevelt had to fly to Hawaii to arbitrate the dispute.  MacArthur, who was in charge of the Southwest Pacific theatre, wanted to go for the Philippines.  Nimitz, who was in charge of the Central Pacific theatre, wanted to go for Okinawa.  Roosevelt (who deliberately never appointed an overall commander for the whole Pacific, something which ultimately caused problems for the U.S. at Leyte Gulf) decided on a compromise: the U.S. would tackle both objectives, but would start with the Philippines.  On the surface this meant that MacArthur won, but apparently MacArthur wasn’t entirely happy with the decision because he felt it opened up the possibility that Nimitz might be put in charge of an eventual invasion of Japan after nearby Okinawa had been conquered.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Not according to Max Hastings (All Hell Let Loose).  A MacArthur ego trip that no-one could prevent.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    I never bought that one, Private Panic.
    Suppose I thought I read too many WW2 books on the whole war when younger. I tend to buy books on individual battles or campaigns now.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    It’s the best one volume history of WW2 around wittman.  I say that with all the confidence of having read a handful of them!

    Max Hastings is able to draw breathtakingly obvious strategic conclusions that others miss.

    Cheers
    PP


  • 2017 '16 '15

    Just wrote him down gonna read him. Cool 🙂


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    He’s written some other great ones too barney.

    Wittman - happy to lend it to you when you come up if you want.



  • Max Hasting is all speculation, John Keegan is the most rational


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    @Narvik:

    Max Hasting is all speculation, John Keegan is the most rational

    Not read John Keegan, but sticking with a theme I posted elsewhere on this forum (not letting facts get in the way of a good opinion  😉) here is the Independent’s review of All Hell Let Loose:

    All Hell Let Loose is an extraordinary book. Full of opinions, wisdom and humanity, it is surely Hastings’ finest work to date. In its sympathetic and scholarly portrayal of the most destructive war that the world has ever seen, it is an eloquent and persuasive riposte to those who archly suggest that this gruesome subject can teach us nothing more and that we should finally consign it to the dustbin of history. It reminds us all of the enormous sacrifices made, the atrocities committed, the horrors endured, and the many millions of lives wasted – and as such it provides a vital service.

    So, do we “need” another big book about the Second World War? Well, if it is as informative, as thought-provoking, and as well-written as this one then yes, absolutely.



  • Read many of Keegan’s works, I will look into Hasting’s writings.


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    Let me get this straight…

    Peleliu was unnecessary
    Leyte gulf was unnecessary
    Guadalcanal was unnecessary

    And now the Philippines was unnecessary

    Was the whole war against Japan unnecessary !?!

    I think you have to go into this with a fresh set of eyes, instead of the 20/20 knowledge we have now.  The allies had to plan for all kinds of contingencies and possibilities, and quite frankly I think these strategic islands eliminated threats from the enemy and oppurtunities for the enemy, whilst bolstering the allied strategic and logistic capabilities even if only slightly.

    All of these battles also served as a draw on Japanese resources, in what would possibly be the battle of Japan.  The a-bomb was not yet a sure thing.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    @ABWorsham:

    Read many of Keegan’s works, I will look into Hasting’s writings.

    I’d be interested to know what you make of him AB. I have read Roberts, Beevor and others and he’s the best in my book (excuse the pun), which is not to denigrate the others.  If you rate Keegan more highly I’ll definitely give him a go. 🙂



  • I would argue that the Philippines invasion was entirely unnecessary.

    The U.S. certainly didn’t need it as a base of operations, as Nimitz had already effectively bypassed the Philippines by taking the Marianas.

    US air superiority, as evidenced by the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, was well established. The threat of Japanese naval and air assets stationed out of the Philippines was minimal. The US had also had no need to send significant assets within striking distance of the Philippines. Support of resistance there was maintained with submarine and covert resupply.

    The US submarine campaign had also hamstrung the IJN, leaving it desperately short of fuel. Invading the Philippines nearly played into Japan’s hands by placing a large transport fleet within striking distance of their base on Borneo.

    It is a certainty that any attempt by Japan to engage in a Mahanian style fleet engagement on the open ocean, either in a second sortie against the Marianas, or against an invasion of Iwo Jima, was doomed to fail.

    Moreover, the US had been effectively supporting Philippine resistance against the Japanese, to the point that many smaller islands were literally free of Japanese forces, and many Japanese garrisons were surrounded by territory under the control of Philippine forces.

    While many Filipinos were supportive of MacArthur and his efforts to retake the Philippines, it is questionable that bypassing them would have had any negative impact on the resistance efforts there.

    The invasion of the Philippines also resulted in the Battle of Manila, which destroyed the city and caused hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties.

    An objective look at MacArthur’s campaign in New Guinea, against forces that were largely ill-supplied and un-supported by air, naval, or artillery forces, should have indicated that another long campaign in mountainous jungle was counterproductive…it would do nothing but engage forces that had already been written off by Japan, and did nothing to further the goal of actually forcing a Japanese surrender.

    One could argue that capturing the Philippines made the job of our submarine crews easier, but this is a false assertion. US subs never operated out of the Philippines, and the Japanese never stationed any assets there that might have made their job harder.

    About the only real reason for invading the Philippines, aside from fulfilling MacArthur’s promise, was to prevent the possibility of reprisals against the population by Japanese forces as the war wound down.

    Considering the casualties that occurred anyways as a result of the invasion, I believe the possibility of such reprisals was an acceptable risk.


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    This is a poor question.

    You might as well ask was the Liberation of France necessary? USA could have dropped the bomb on Germany, or just Let Russia do it’s thing.  Or UK could have surrendered and let Germany do in Russia.

    Why fight at all?

    Japan surrendered because it lost so many battles abroad, and it’s empire was crumbling in every direction, and then it got hit with the bomb.

    If japan had maintained all of it’s smaller holdings, it may not have surrendered.



  • There are plenty reasons why you would attack a target that may lack strategic or tactical value. For starters it could be about showing the willingness to do whatever it takes.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Soulblighter:

    There are plenty reasons why you would attack a target that may lack strategic or tactical value. For starters it could be about showing the willingness to do whatever it takes.

    Fair point – but on the other hand, attacking targets with no value might cause the enemey to conclude that you don’t know what you’re doing.  Even more dangerously, your own troops might conclude that you don’t know what you’re doing and/or that you’re willing to waste their lives on public relations stunts.  Stalin might get away with this kind of cavalier attitude on the disposability of troops, but the U.S. and the U.K. could not.

    If I’m not mistaken, the problem with Peleliu wasn’t that it had no value at the time when the Americans took it; the problem was that it was designed to support an advance towards (and a conquest of) Yap.  When the Americans eventually decided not to take Yap, then the rationale for taking Peleliu (which by then was in U.S. hands) was invalidated and it thus became a costly victory that served little purpose.


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    We often forget that the conclusion of the war was not a known element.

    As stated, Peleliu mattered little in the end, but if something had gone wrong somewhere else, it may have been the cornerstone of allied victory.

    It most certainly caused Japan some level of strategic/logisitical grief, and it’s one more piece on the board the americans could seize to strengthen their offensive.

    As for publicity stunts… PHI was a must. The U.S. said they would return, and everyone believed it.  If the U.S. had not returned… that would have been a costly political enterprise.


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